A friend of mine is becoming frum and he recently mentioned that his rabbi told him to start pronouncing his words with a “suf” instead of the “tuf” he has been doing his entire life. I’m not sure whether I agree with this order from the Rabbi, but I definitely understand it. So much of frumkeit is social and the Rabbi (I’m being very nice here) probably just wants this new baal teshuva to fit in and there’s no better way of doing that than fixing the social stuff like how they pronounce words and how they dress.
Pretty much everyone I know, knows someone who flipped out in Israel, they went on brithright extended their flight, wound up in Aish, Ohr Someyach or one of the other dozens of kiruv indoctrination institutions and within months was dressing like a yeshiva bocher but didn’t even know how to daven. Then they come back to America and lose it all, some of them return to frumkeit in a more sane way and some just reminisce about that 4 months period in their life when they were “actually” orthodox.
When I lived in Dallas, the kiruv folk over there had the social process down pat, this was because they had no competition and most of the people becoming frum would probably never live anywhere else and hence they didn’t have any outside influences. I remember how blown away I was at the amazing BT watching in their shul Ohr Torah, I saw older folks with black hats and peyos behind their ears standing with their feet apart during shemona esrei like folks who have no idea what they are doing. It was my first introduction to professional out of town kiruv. It’s almost reverse to the way converts do it. Converts usually start keeping mitzvos and Torah and then figure out that coming to shul in jeans or a mini skirt isn’t the way it’s done.
I’m not so sure I agree with teaching BT’s the art of social orthodoxy first, but to be honest it makes sense. First get them dressing like their counterparts, get those little kids wearing velvet yarmulkes with the little designs on them, the mother wearing expensive hair pieces and the father wearing a hat and naturally everything will fall into place, right?
I have found it interesting that although BT’s learn the art of outward social orthodoxy, they still flaunt large TV’s in their homes, have raunchy (according to yeshivish standards) magazines lying about their houses and usually still talk about their pasts in whist full ways like “oh dear it’s been a long time since we’ve had period sex, while eating bacon at a drive in on shabbos”
As to my friend being taught to say a “suf” rather than a “suf” I am positive that there were more pressing things he learn before taking up the time and energy to change something that isn’t halachic. Maybe the Rabbi could have taught him how to lain a gemara or read Hebrew better so he could look up stuff in the mishna brura for himself – iot just seems like such a trivial issue when there other pressing needs in people’s lives.